Shorter day today, but full of milestones! I tried to sleep in but naturally woke up at 7:30. I think that may just be my new time. Nick needed to get a spoke replaced, but the bike shop didn’t open til 10, so we were in no rush to leave. I went to a cafe and grabbed breakfast, but mostly just sat around using the internet. There is a water park in Farmington with a lazy river but I decided to rest instead. Nick headed out to the bike shop, and we knew it would be a while. I just watched TV and caught up on Instagram (not that I ever even really got behind, I’m basically only following bike tourers I’ve met). I ordered some lunch from a seafood place, Krabby Daddy’s, and enjoyed lobster for the first time on the trip. I managed to lose a water bottle (I think I left it at lunch yesterday) so I picked up a replacement at a bike shop. I did some minor bike maintenance and a few other chores but mostly hurried up and waited. Around 1 they finished the repair and Nick came back and we packed up to go. We rolled out around 2:45, by far my latest start of the trip. I was only planning 50 miles or so to Chester, so I wasn’t worried, but Nick was planning a warmshowers over in Carbondale which was 85, so he needed to hustle.
As we left, fueled up and recuperated, I felt like id had an entire day off, and indeed, I’d had 24 hours off the bike (ignoring errands and food runs). I felt good heading out, and I think Nick did too. It was a gorgeous day, with coolish weather, chirping birds, and puffy white clouds. The hills we hit didn’t phase us and we were blowing through the miles. There wasn’t much along this stretch (the only convenience store was closed for some reason) so we just settled in and enjoyed the scenery
We passed a flock of billy goats who ran away from us in unison across their field, but I didn’t get a good photo. The hills here were a bit different from previous days: there were wider, longer valleys that we got to enjoy for a bit before having to climb out of them. It was nice to have brief breaks from the hills. Here’s one of the descents down into the valley
Do you see it? In the distance there’s a flat area. On the far side of that area is the Mississippi River, and the Illinois border! I was positively ecstatic as we descended down to the flood plains and the fields that lay in them.
We could no longer see the river, but knowing that was over there made me giddy. I think Nick may have felt it too because he set a pace that I could barely keep up with. We even got a massive shoulder as a present
In the distance a bridge over the Mississippi was rising up and the road pointed right up it. As we approached it became clear that there was no shoulder or sidewalk, we had to ride on the deteriorating road surface. The views off the sides were great but I didn’t get to be as much of a tourist as I wanted: traffic was heavy and had nowhere to pass.
Cement trucks and dump trucks both were rolling behind and around us and it was slightly terrifying. I kind of ditched Nick and raced to the far side of the bridge. I shouldn’t have done that, we should have stuck together. He came over a minute later, slightly shaken like I was but safe. We we’re officially in Illinois!
In fact, we were near Chester, Illinois: the hometown of the creator of Popeye, and very proud of it, a statue of the character greeted all Eastbound traffic on the bridge. Here’s a photo of the bridge and river, taken from a safer spot than the roadway
We rode up a super steep hill into the town of Chester. As we climbed into town Nick snapped another spoke, after getting the last broken spoke literally this morning. What a welcome to the state. A family called out to us from their porch, asking where we were from as we bombed down a steep hill. I braked and responded. They gave us directions to a convenience store and the bike shack we were planning on staying at. In Casey’s we got stupid amounts of soda and I even got donuts. I need to watch my sugar intake. Nick took a charity phone call while I went to find the shack. It’s located next to an Eagles Club restaurant/clubhouse. Everyone was super friendly, and I got some dinner and chatted with locals. One guy in particular, whose name I forgot, told me all about town and previous cyclists he’s met and the routes they take and a million other topics. He was incredibly friendly. The waitress was also nice. Overall everyone was great. After dinner I headed down to the shack and Nick was sitting there. He realized he’s not making it to Carbondale tonight and is gonna crash here. We checked out the room and it’s nice, it has bunk beds for 8 and AC and power, with some bathrooms and a shower next door. 1000x better than camping. I got a shower while Nick went and took another charity call (I don’t know how he balances all the riding and charity obligations). I’m writing this up sitting in the room, getting tired and ready to sleep, so I think I will. Night!
Distance: almost 50
- Veggie scramble
- Nutella toast
- Chai tea latte
- Cheddar popcorn
- Mac and cheese
- Texas toast
- Kind bar